Pitti is determined to go ahead with its next physical trade show in February, and expects around 300 brands to attend, according to Raffaello Napoleone, CEO of the Florentine fashion salon.
Pitti – which has three distinct evens, Uomo for men, Bimbo for kids wear and Filati for thread – was forced to call off all of its live trade shows this year after its January edition of Uomo, when the pandemic took hold. Though the organization did stage several digital editions, notably launching a digital project, Pitti Connect, in July.
The next edition of Pitti Connect, featuring menswear, will be held online in January. And, as reported, Pitti will stage a joint physical trade show of its three divisions from February 21 to 23.
“We have about 300 brands coming in February who have already paid. So, we expect somewhere between one fourth or one third of our usual number of brands. Though to be honest, it’s impossible to know exactly right now how many,” explained Napoleone in a Zoom call with FashionNetwork.com.
The entire event will be staged inside Fortezza da Basso, the giant medieval fortress that is the nerve center of Pitti, unlike a normal season when showrooms, runway shows and launches take place in gilded palazzos and historic sites throughout the capital of the Renaissance.
At present, the Italian government has forbidden any live events up until Jan. 15 of next year, noted Napoleone, adding that in the event the restriction was extended Pitti would return all booking fees to exhibitors.
“We already gave back 80 million euros in June. That’s half our yearly turnover for our three shows. Other trade shows just gave people a voucher!” he sniffed.
Pitti operates a sliding payment structure for stands inside the fortress, depending on floor level, access and set up. However, a ballpark figure for brands is around 300 euros per square meter.
The Pitti CEO cautioned that for many small- to medium-sized fashion and accessories firms, Pitti remained an essential marketplace to meet boutique owners, department stores and online retailers.
“We have many small but creative brands. They are the backbone of Italy. These small-sized exhibitors have not the organization to sell abroad without a trade show like ours. They are not half billion-euro companies,” he noted.
Napoleone conceded that it was impossible to predict exactly how many visitors would come to the February edition, but noted that there are still regular flights to Rome from America or China, albeit with requirements for pre-flight and arrival Covid testing.
He also speculated that some brands would show updated versions of the fall collections for 2020/21 that they were unable to ship to retailers.
“It is hard to know what will happen. In Italy, as one region opens another closes. Commercially, the situation is still a disaster generally. We also have a lot of retailers who are suffering are lot. Huge numbers of multibrand boutiques are closing. They can’t pay the rent. Landlords are not always open to reducing the fee. So, any chance for a brand to meet customers at a trade show is very welcome. And, yes digital is very important, but in fashion a live presentation has a whole different impact on a wholesaler or consumer,” he added.
The Pitti Connect platform that debuted in July attracted 288 brands to the Uomo element, and around 550 in total when Filati and Bimbo were added.
“We attracted 9,500 buyers and one and a half million page views. I know that 2021 will for sure continue to be tough. But we hope to have a full physical edition in June of Pitti Uomo. After all, it will be its 100th edition. Audaces fortuna juvat,” he concluded, using the Latin expression, fortune favors the brave.